russian women
© Reuters
New technologies make jobs less labor-intensive and the labor market more global. Employers who benefit from it should be prepared to make concessions to their workers in return, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said.

"It's quite possible that the future belongs to the four-day week as the foundation of the social labor contract," Medvedev said as an example of what corporations may offer laborers in the future.

He argued that paying the same money for less working hours may not be a loss for employers and national economies. After all, when the previous major change in working hours took place in early 20th century, with people like Henry Ford agreeing to 40-hour week at their plants, there was a productivity boost.

Some pilot projects indicate the same may happen with the four-day week, Medvedev suggested, adding that shorter work weeks would help tackle problems like burnout, a condition that the World Health Organization classified as a disease just last month.

Speaking to the 108th Session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva, the chair of the Russian government said nations should brace themselves for major changes in how labor works due to technology.

For example, automation may leave millions seeking a new occupation within a decade, while the spread of broadband internet access makes working from home, for companies half a world away, a viable option for people living in developing nations. Medvedev warned that it was in the interests of corporations and governments to cushion the impact of such changes on the labor force, otherwise they could be facing mass discontent and possible riots from unemployed populations.